A bunch of local foodies gathered tonight at a Shanghainese private kitchen. We had never been to Gong Guan (公舘), but it looked interesting enough. I don't usually go to Chinese private kitchens, but it's fun to do it once in a while with a group of people.
First we popped open a bottle of white. The 2005 Bannockburn Chardonnay was not bad at all. Nose of lemon citrus, honey and butter. A little ripe on the palate with a "hot" and long, spicy finish. Quite a big wine on the palate.
We began with a series of cold starters, as is traditional for a Shanghainese meal. These were all rolled out at the same time, making our task of tasting them a bit tougher.
Jellyfish with zucchini in sesame seed oil - the jellyfish came in thick cuts, making it slightly chewier than normal. The combination with strips of zucchini was interesting, as it's not a traditional ingredient in Shanghainese cuisine.
Before we had a chance to go through all the starters, the staff put a bowl of soup in front of us. This was tofu and fish maw soup, with egg drop and spring onions as garnish. Everything was diced up and the fish maw (花膠) makes for an interesting texture.
As there were still lots of food on the table, we asked that the kitchen slow down a bit so we could have enough time to properly enjoy our food. This was met with the unfortunate response in the negative. As this was Sunday night, the chef wanted to finish cooking all the dishes so that s/he could go home! So the lesson is...don't come on a Sunday, and start your dinner earlier!
I brought my last bottle of 2005 Guigal La Doriane. I wanted to give this wine one last try, but it still wasn't what I wanted out of a Condrieu. Color was golden and indicated advanced age, but the wine is less than 4 years old. Nose of straw, paraffin, a bit burnt and clearly oxidized. A little spicy and ripe on the palate, but surprisingly not sweet and a little metallic. Waaaay too ripe for a Viognier. What happened to the crispy freshness, and beautiful floral notes I was supposed to get out of this wine?
Stir-fried Chinese cabbage with wolfberries and bamboo tips was a nice way to finish. Very refreshing and palate-cleansing.
The dessert was glutinous rice balls with fermented rice and coix seed. The soup was flavored with ginger sauce and the traditional osmanthus sauce. Kinda different.
This was a really enjoyable dinner. Other than the yellow croaker, most of the dishes were very, very good with a few clear winners. I look forward to coming back with another group of friends...